News Release

Invasive Shrub under Scrutiny by Students in Ecological Restoration

By Elizabeth Tollefson on
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Dorothy the goatCommon buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) is an invasive shrub distributed throughout the aspen understory at the Natural History Area located near campus. For the past three years, students enrolled in NATR 3480: Ecological Restoration, taught by Associate Professor Matt Simmons, have had some success reducing buckthorn density and cover in small test plots within the Natural History Area by utilizing stump treatments and foliar herbicide application. In addition to these methods, the use of goats as a biocontrol is an emerging technique being used in the upper Midwest.

Students set up a temporary square enclosure measuring approximately 24’ x 16’. Students measured buckthorn cover and density within this enclosure. Four goats were then placed in the enclosure during lab on 13 October and will be students watching goats in buckthorn controlagain on 20 October. The goats were monitored by the class, and feeding behavior and preferences were recorded. Students enrolled in the class next year will take similar measurements on the buckthorn to determine the effect of goat grazing on buckthorn cover and density within the plot.
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Elizabeth Tollefson

University Relations